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Indian golfers confident about season

8/31/2014

By AUSTIN COLBERT

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

There is a quiet confidence about the Hays High School girls' golf team as it enters the 2014 season, one the Indians hope will end with another trip to state and its first conference crown in eight years.

"We'd like to win another WAC championship to put another year up on the board in the school so the girls can come back when they graduate and see that," HHS coach Mark Watts said. "That's the ultimate thing, to get back to state. And I think these girls can do that."

Hays High has made eight straight trips to the state tournament, including last year's eighth-place finish. But the Indians haven't won the Western Athletic Conference title since 2006, a stretch mostly dominated by Garden City High School and its star, Abbi Shaddix, now a freshman golfer at the University of North Texas.

While most WAC schools might be taking a step back this year, Hays High looks to take a step forward with the return of every varsity golfer from last year's team.

"Oh my gosh, not even in just knowing the rules, but knowing the different shots and everything and knowing what to do with it has helped a lot," said senior Lexie Schaben on what it means to have experience. "We've been out on the course a lot and we are looking pretty good this year, already. So I'm excited to see how the season goes."

Schaben looks to return as the Indians' No. 1 golfer this season. She led the team to a regional championship last season at Smoky Hill Country Club in Hays by posting a team-best 93, good for second place. She followed by shooting a team-high 94 at Tex Consolver Golf Course in Wichita in the Class 5A state tournament.

Schaben, along with fellow senior Elissa Jensen, bring a lot of experience to the course this season. But each are expected to have competition at the top from sophomore Katie Brungardt and junior Taylor DeBoer, both in their second season on the team.

"The person that improved the most was Taylor DeBoer. She has really improved since last year," Watts said. "They make the job easier for me because they know what to expect and they are better. I think they've gotten better since last year. So we have a deep team. That does help. Plus we got girls that have experience playing in the state tournament."

Filling out the roster are freshman Emily Prine, sophomore Rhian Patterson, senior Macie Mayo and senior Summer Smith. Smith, in her first season with the golf team, is also running cross country in the fall and will split time between the teams.

The Indians' quest for a WAC title will begin Tuesday with their first tournament of the season, which also happens to be their only home meet outside of possibly hosting regionals. The Indians' tournament will begin at 1 p.m. at Smoky Hill Country Club. All five WAC schools will compete along with Salina South, Salina Central, Hutchinson and Thomas More Prep-Marian.

"We have our goals and naturally our first goal is to win our own tournament," Watts said. "These girls, they really come to practice and want to do what they are supposed to do. It's a lot of fun."